dorset chiapas solidarity

March 10, 2017

The transition blossoms, although we may not see it

Filed under: Autonomy, Corporations, Human rights, Indigenous, Lacandon/ montes azules, Maize, Uncategorized, Zapatistas — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 10:26 am

 

 

The transition blossoms, although we may not see it

 

artesania1 (1)Autonomous Zapatista cooperatives produce hand-woven artistry for the local market. Photo by Carolina Dutton.

By: Raúl Zibechi

We are transitioning towards a new, post-capitalist world. In the measure that it is a process we are experiencing, we don’t have sufficient distance to know which period we’re in, but everything indicates that we’re crossing through the initial phases of said transition. Although it has deep similarities to previous ones (transitions from antiquity to feudalism and from feudalism to capitalism), a remarkable fact is the inability to comprehend what’s happening before our very eyes: a true process of the collective construction of new worlds.

In emancipatory thinking and especially in Marxism, the idea that all transition begins with the taking of power at the nation-State level has been converted into common sense. This assertion should have been re-thought after the Soviet and Chinese failures, but above all since the demolition of the states by neoliberalism, in other words by financial capital and the fourth world war underway. It’s certain, however, that power must be taken in order to move towards a non-capitalist world power, but why at the State level, why at an institutional level?

This is one of the essences of the problem and an enormous conceptual difficulty in being able to visualize the transitions that really exist. The second difficulty, tied to the former, is that transitions are not homogenous, and don’t involve all of the social body in the same way. History teaches us that they usually begin on the peripheries of the world-system of each nation, in remote rural areas and in small towns, in the weak links of the system, where they collect force and then expand to the centres of power.

On the other hand, transitions not only are not uniform from the geographic point of view, but also the social, since they are processes guided by human need and not by ideologies. Those who first construct other worlds are usually the peoples that inhabit the basement, Indians, blacks and mestizos; the popular sectors, women and youth are usually the principal protagonists.

I want to give an example of something that is happening right now, since it has a degree of important development and that can hardly be reversed, except with genocide. I refer to the experience of the Unemployed Workers Union (Unión de Trabajadores Desocupados, UTD) in General Mosconi, in northern Argentina. The city has 22,000 inhabitants who worked at the state oil company YPF until its privatization in the 1990s, which left a lot of people unemployed. In those years a strong movement of unemployed workers, known as piqueteros, took off and forced social plans out of successive governments.

During the cycle of piquetero struggles, the UTD was one of the principal referents in the whole country and the other movements enthusiastically followed its memorable roadblocks. The UTD and its leaders enjoyed strong prestige, which carried over to hundreds of cases before the courts because of the roadblocks and other “crimes;” they were the most popular ones in Argentina.

Things changed very quickly. The arrival of Nestor Kirchner to the presidency in 2003, and the retraction of the movements, took the UTD out of the media scenario and away from the -attention of the social militants. News about what’s happening in far-away northern Argentina is as scarce as it is nebulous.

Nevertheless, the UTD took advantage of the social plans (now cut by Macri) to construct a new world. At this time 110 agro-ecological vegetable gardens function, of two hectares each, where an average of 30 people work and produce a large variety of vegetables, besides a chicken coop and pigs in each garden. They have a carpentry workshop that is nourished from the zone’s abundant wood, workshops for soldering, classification of seeds and recycling of plastics in the five large structures the movement has, as one can read in the reporting of Claudia Acuña in the magazine MU (July 2016).

They built nurseries that reproduce native flora with which they supply from the town squares to the woods, those threatened by the dizzying expansion of transgenic soy and woodcutters. They dedicate part of their work to sustaining public spaces in the city and in the surrounding forests, a region where drug trafficking is increasing under state-police protection and complicity.

A simple calculation shows that from 4 to 5 thousand people make their living in relation to the collective work the UTD organizes, which is equivalent to 40 percent of Mosconi’s active population. Those families forged food autonomy, they no longer depend on social plans, and they are aiming from the production of food to the construction of housing, in other words they are reproducing life outside the framework of the system, without relating to capital or depending on the State. In sum, they work with dignity.

cafe-zapatista-de-chiapasZapatista coffee cooperatives produce coffee that is sold in Chiapas, in Mexico and internationally.

It will be said that it is just a local experience. But the gardens and the UTD’s ways of doing things are already expanding to neighbouring Tartagal, which has triple the population. Many thousands of undertakings of this kind in Latin America, because the popular sectors comprehended that the system doesn’t need them or protect them, as happened during the brief years of the welfare states. There is an implicit strategy in this group of new worlds that does not pass through nation-states, but rather through strengthening and expanding each initiative, in sharpening the anti-systemic and anti-patriarchal traits, and in strengthening resistances.

A stroke of maturity of a good part of these new worlds consists of maintaining distance from the political party and state institutions, although they can always demand support and glean resources with one eye set on guaraneeing survival and the other on maintaining independence.

In the long transition underway, impossible to know whether it will be decades or centuries, the new worlds are facing one of the system’s most powerful offensives. What they have achieved up to now permits us to breathe a serene optimism.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, March 3, 2017

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2017/03/03/opinion/020a1pol

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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February 24, 2017

EZLN: What’s Next II. The Urgent and the Important

Filed under: Autonomy, CNI, Displacement, gal, Indigenous, Maize, Marcos, Uncategorized, Zapatistas — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 1:32 pm

 

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EZLN: What’s Next II. The Urgent and the Important

 

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January 3, 2017

I’ve been listening to you. Sometimes when I’m here with you all, sometimes via the CIDECI stream, sometimes via what your Zapatista students mention to me.

I always try to get a grasp on the meaning of your presentations, the path and direction of your words. We have heard brilliant presentations, some didactic, some complex, the majority polemical, but on and about things that can be debated. And we think you should do so, among yourselves. For that discussion, perhaps it would help you to first clarify the confusion that exists between science and technology.

With regard to the rest, we are as surprised as you are. This interest [of the Zapatista students] in science is not something we ordered or imposed, but rather something that was born from inside [of the Zapatista communities].

Twenty-three years ago, when feminism came to demand that we order women’s liberation, we told them that wasn’t something that can be ordered, because it belongs to the compañeras. Freedom is not ordered, it is conquered. Two decades later, what the compañeras have achieved would put to shame those who at that time claimed to be the vanguard of feminism.

It’s the same now. Science is not imposed. It is the product of a process of the peoples, exactly as Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés explained.

I’ve told you that we thought the majority of your presentations were good, but there were some, just a few, that, well I don’t know what to tell you.

One of them said admiring things about me; I listened with attention and waited for the moment when he would say: “everything I have just said is a fraud, I presented it to you so you would see what pseudo-science is and so that you don’t trust the principal of authority; just because someone has a formal education doesn’t mean that what they say is scientific.” But no, that moment never came.

I scrutinized his face to see if he was smiling maliciously, but no. He was sincerely convinced of the barbarities he was presenting, and appreciatively received the applause of his buddies in the crowd and others he had managed to sweet-talk.

When a compañera insurgenta heard that thing about not needing to make babies, that it’s better to adopt because there are a lot 15941338_1341911112495607_3922665712756661550_nof people on the planet already, she said to me: “so that’s how they get rid of people, the Hydra isn’t even necessary, that idea is sufficient. That’s the idea of rich people; even if there are only one or two of them, they are the ones who are in the way and of no use. That idea that was presented tells us there is no need to struggle to make another world, we just need to take contraceptives.”

 

I’m going to tell you what someone once told me about the time when the world was like an apple, waiting for the bite of original sin.

This man was explaining to me how he made a living. He used the “Boa Constrictor” method, as he called it. He had a helper, and together they would put vaseline into small jars and make labels that read “Balm for Absolutely Everything.” The small print told you that this balm could cure everything from Alzheimers to a broken heart, including along the way polio, typhoid fever, hair loss, evil eye, toothache, foot odour, bad breath, and some other ailments that I don’t remember.

This is what this person would do: stand on a corner and begin to rail against zoos and circuses, that oh the poor little animals, locked up like that. And he would announce: “That is why we are going to show you a boa constrictor, 7 meters long, that we found in the sewer and rescued and now take care of, and right here and now we are going to show it to you, madam, sir, young man, young lady, child, the public in general.”

People would gather around curiously, mostly because the boa constrictor was nowhere in sight, just an old suitcase full of small jars of a balm called “Absolutely Everything.

When he decided there were enough people around, he would turn to his helper and say loudly, “Secretary! Brrrrrinnnnnngg me the boa!” The accomplice would nod and run off to who knows where.

The man would watch his helper move into the distance. Picking at random, he would comment to someone close: “It seems like a lie, but just a few weeks ago that boy couldn’t move, not even with a cane, only in a wheelchair. And just look at him now. It seems like a miracle, but no, that’s not it. What happened was, luckily, I found the scientific formula for a medicine that cured him. Here, I’ll show you.”

Of course, the “innocent” comment that was supposedly aimed at one person was said in such a way for several to hear. The man would then go to the suitcase and take out a jar and tell the first person to whom he had directed the comment: “Look, this is what I was telling you about.” The person would take the jar and read the label while the man would pretend indifference, rearranging the little jars and looking in the direction the assistant had gone and commenting as if to himself, “why is that boy taking so long? I hope the boa constrictor hasn’t escaped on him, because if it has, we’ll see it in the news tomorrow, poor animal, they might cage it or turn it into bags and shoes.”

In the meantime, the innocent person who received the jar would be showing it to the person beside them, commenting on what had happened to the boy who went to get the boa. In a few minutes the jar had been passed through some 10 people, and the man would say then: “Okay now, give the medicine back to the madam, the gentlemen, the young man, young woman,” accordingly, and then to that person would add, “you keep it, as a gift, try it, you’ll see.

Others would then come up asking for their free sample too and the man, apologetically, would explain: “No, I’m sorry, I can’t give them to everyone, it’s a special order from the Secretary of Health. But, not that I think about it, it’s better for you all to have a chance to try it instead of those government scoundrels. Just give me 10 pesos each so I can replace the government order.”

It was enough that 5 or so people would come up for others to join in, and soon he would have around him a decent number of people. The people would comment among themselves what the balm was all about and the man, pretending indifference, would merely charge for each jar while lamenting the delay of his “secretary” and and the cursed boa.

In a matter of minutes, the helper would come back all agitated and worried and whisper something to the man. The man would answer “My god, really? Are you sure?” Then he would quickly pick up the now empty or almost empty suitcase and, addressing the people gathered there, proclaim: “Run! The boa escaped and the police and patrols are on their way.” He and the helper would take off with alarm and as the word of warning spread the people would scatter also.

I asked him how much the cursed medicine cost. He told me he pulled the little jars out of the trash and the vaseline, well that came out to about a peso per jar. So this method earned him some 100 pesos a day, at a time when the minimum wage was 8 pesos a day.

Anyway, I just wanted to say to those who tried to apply that method in this gathering that even if you have an academic degree, we’re not buying your little jars. You’ll have to look for another corner from which to hock your quack commodities.

-*-

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Perhaps somebody out there still has the image in mind of the ignorant and naive indigenous, and thought they could tell us they were going to talk about one thing knowing full well that they were going to talk about something else that had nothing to do with science. Hell, it doesn’t even manage to be pseudoscience. I’ve read better developed, more original, and equally false things on social media.

Let me tell you: if you complain that the science departments in academia don’t take seriously what is pure existential nonsense, well, here we don’t either.

If in academia they don’t take your political activism in account, well we don’t either. But I can tell you where they do: on the institutional left. There, yes, you can go and say: I’m a doctorate in who knows what and I’ve participated in this many marches, rallies, and classes, and indeed they will give you some leadership position in something, anything, as advisors or coordinators.

Here, if you came because you know mathematics, then we want to hear you talk about mathematics, even if you don’t know what surplus value or class struggle is, even if you don’t know if “The International” is a song of struggle, an opera, or the name of a corner store. As Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés already told you, science is science, whether you are a partidista [associated with a political party] or a Zapatista.

It’s also not worth your time to come here and fawn over or court us, although I think that does work in academic institutions.

Neither are we interested in being manipulated around skin colour, sexual preference, or religious belief. You either know what you’re talking about or you don’t; it doesn’t matter if you are dark-skinned, white, red, yellow, black, or mixed; it doesn’t matter if you are a man, woman, homosexual, gay, trans, or whatever; it doesn’t matter if you are Catholic, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, Mohammedan, or whatever; if you’re going to do science, then you do science, not religion, philosophy, or the quackery currently trending on social media.

So here we don’t discriminate. Here differences aren’t a demerit, but they aren’t a merit either. With respect to the personal sufferings or dramas you may have, fine, we understand. But you should understand that we are a very poor audience from which to expect pity. With everything you have suffered and continue to suffer, it could not compare with what it has been, and is, to be what we are.

But I understand what’s going on with you, everyone gets off with what they can. However, it doesn’t seem honest to us to come here and lie, saying you came to talk about science and not your existential lashings.

But the compañeros and compañeras are noble and understanding. We invited you to talk to us and we have honoured that; we have listened with respect, which isn’t the same as saying that we have swallowed all your tall tales. We honoured the agreement. Those people did not.

Imagine that this is an assembly in one of the Zapatista communities, and you go up to present one of your projects. You have said you are going talk about biology, medicine, laboratory work, clinical analysis, agroecology, engineering, or pharmaceuticals, and the assembly says, yes, go ahead, these things are urgent. Or you are coming to talk about physics, chemistry, math, volcanology, astronomy, and other sciences, and the assembly says yes, go ahead, these things are important.

But if someone comes who says they are going to tell us that science needs to do postmodern philosophy and take the existential variables of each person into account, well, the assembly is going to listen to you, but they aren’t going to tell you to go ahead. They are going to propose that you infiltrate Skynet and convince Artificial Intelligence to accept your scientific proposal. I’m sure that it would collapse in no time, which would relieve the duality suffered by John Connor, and humanity as a whole would be liberated from the Terminator sequels.

Of course, I recommend that you truly study and realize that you are closer to Aristotle and Ptolemy than to Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler.

-*-

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The Apocalypse According to Defensa Zapatista

The mountains of the Mexican Southeast. Territory in resistance and rebellion. There is an autonomous school. A classroom. There, the education promotora is talking to the Zapatista girls and boys:

Before we leave I’m going to tell you a story. You have to think about it and respond to the question I ask at the end.”

On one of the benches at the back, a little girl stops drawing complicated diagrams in her notebook which, although they appear to be flowcharts, are really diagrams of soccer tactics. At the margin of the lines and arrows one can read “when we fill up the team.” At the little girl’s feet there is a ball, frayed and full of lumps, and on her laps sleeps a kind of cat…or a dog… or something.

It’s not just the little girl, but the whole class that’s hanging on the words of the promotora, who says:

There is a voice that tells us what it sees. It says to realize that the world is going to end once and for all, and that we can see that there are only two men left. The two are standing face to face; they aren’t talking to each other, but you can tell they are very angry. They are the only men left, everyone else has died already. They are the last men on Earth. These two men don’t talk to each other or look at each other, but they are arguing angrily. And they aren’t talking to or looking at each other because they are sending each other messages on their phones. That is, as they say, they are fighting as if their cellphones were weapons, the only ones left because the world is ending. They are scolding each other harshly, as only the two of them can see. One is saying to the other, that is, he is sending him a text message:

It is all your fault because with science you created destruction.” (send)

The other looks at the message on his phone, gets angry and answers:

No, it is your fault because instead of science, you starting saying we should do what the ancient primitives did and not use technologies.” (send)

The first really gets mad now and you can see in his eyes that it’s like he wants to burn up the screen of his phone. He writes:

No, it’s your fault because with your science and technology you created the weapons that killed off everything, including the poor little animals.” (send)

The other looks at the message and you can see in his eyes he’s thinking “you’ll see, you bastard,” and he responds:

No, it’s your fault because you said that we shouldn’t learn science because science is bad because it doesn’t respect Mother Earth and does her harm.” (send)

The other looks with hate at the screen and types out:

No, it’s your fault because you think you know so much with your science and you don’t take the people’s needs into account and you go around with a big head thinking nobody can match you and all that shit you talk.” (send)

The first reads and gets so furious you wouldn’t believe it. He looks at the other and in his eye you can see “you’re going to die, bastard.” So he writes:

No, it’s your fault because you criticized science out of pure laziness, you don’t want to study or learn because it’s clear that you’re just slothful and trifling.” (send)

The two men go on like this for awhile, fighting angrily over their cellphones. They don’t know it, but this is the last day; as soon as night falls, everything is over. But because they were fighting and looking at their cell phones, they didn’t realize when the sun hid itself in the mountains and the land fell dark.”

The education promotora who has used everything she learned in her education preparation courses in order to tell the story, concludes:

Okay, so this is the story the voice has narrated. So, the question you must answer is: “Which of the men survived the end of the world?

The children stay quiet, thinking.

In the first row of the classroom sits Pedrito. He says it’s so that he can pay close attention, but we all know it’s because he’s totally in love with the promotora, but we’re not going to publish that because it’s his secret.

Pedrito raises his hand, asking to be called on.

The promotora is about to say, “Let’s see, Pedrito, what do you think,” when from the back of the classroom a little girl’s voice says:

Well that’s easy.”

Everyone, including the promotora, turns to look at the little girl who has stood up and already has her bag over her shoulder with her notebook and pen inside. In her little hands she holds the frayed ball, while the Cat-dog stretches at her feet. The teacher says resignedly:

Okay Defensa Zapatista, tell us what you think.”

The little girl is already moving toward the door of the classroom as she announces:

The answer is easy, because it’s clear that it’s the fucking men’s fault that the world is ending because they’re so terrible with that patriarchality of theirs which is just impossible to believe in anymore. And they didn’t study the fucking Hydra which has been consuming and screwing over the whole planet earth. So there they are, all macho, fighting with their cell phones and their songs about horses and love and then about lost love, I mean why can’t they just decide already.

Anyway, teacher, so that you understand as the women that we are, I’m going to explain the word “patriarchality” which is like where the men rule and they want us women to just be waiting on them hand and foot, and then later they tell us how much they love us and how we have very pretty eyes, as if they were looking at our eyes, no, they’re looking at something else. I don’t know what it is that they’re really looking at because I’m not grown up yet, but that’s what my moms told me the fucking men do. When I grow up, they better not even think about it, I’m going to give them their slaps upside the head and a few kicks if they look at me wrong. So, the “patriarchality means that the fucking men just want us to make them their pozol and then are always pestering us for a kiss. Do you think we’re just going to give them a kiss, just like that? Oh no, I don’t think so, maybe instead of a kiss a knock on the head. And then they think they’re going to convince us with their songs about horses. They’re just so dumb, let’s see if they can find a horse to make them their pozol, what are they going to come up with then, never ever…”

The teacher knows the little girl very well already, so she interrupts:

Okay, Defensa Zapatista, answer the question.”

The little girl is already at the door. As the Cat-dog wags its tail happily at her feet, she responds:

Look, it’s easy. Neither of the two men live; they both die because they were stupid. Clearly it’s the fault of the patriarchality that the world is going to end, but it doesn’t, because it turns out there is someone who lives which is the compañera who is telling the story. Because if it’s not a compañera who tells the story then there’s no story. And the compañera who tells the story carries her little baby on her back in her shawl and is giving what you might call political lessons to the baby, so that the baby learns that we have to support each other as the women that we are.”

The little girl didn’t wait to see what the education promotora would say, and accepting as a given that her answer was correct, ran out of the classroom yelling “Let’s play!” as the Cat-dog and the rest of the class followed her out the door.

The education promotora smiles as she puts away her notebooks and books, one of which reads across the cover, “Twentieth Anniversary Anthology. National Indigenous Congress. Never Again a Mexico Without Us.” Ready to leave, the teacher notices that not all the children have left.

On the front bench sits Pedrito, looking all sad and defeated. The promotora goes over and sits down beside him asking,

What’s wrong Pedrito, why are you sad?”

Pedrito sighs and answers, “Because I didn’t get to answer the question because Defensa Zapatista spoke first.”

Ah,” the teachers says, “don’t worry Pedrito, what was your answer?”

Pedrito explains with a tone of the obvious:

Well I was going to answer that the story doesn’t hold up, because if there are only two men left, arguing over their cell phones, then who is working so that there’s a cell signal? This means that there are others who continue working, that is, that there can’t just be two left. So you see what I’m saying teacher, your story lacks logic, coherence in the argument. So the answer is that the very premise is faulty and for that reason, the conclusion, whatever that may be, is false. This would have been understood if critical thinking was applied to the analysis.” (trust me, that’s how Pedrito talks, if you get to meet him some day you’ll see I’m not making things up).

Pedrito, after finishing talking, returns to his posture of sorrow and sadness.

The education promotora is thinking about what the words “coherence” and “premise” mean, and that this is always the case with Pedrito, that he uses words that challenge even the Comandancia. The promotora isn’t embarrassed to ask Pedrito what those words mean, but she sees that Pedrito is sad so she hugs him and says:

Don’t worry Pedrito, your answer is good, too.”

Pedrito, upon being hugged, turns all shades of red and puts on his “no one has ever hugged me before” face, just like the deceased SupMarcos taught him. Letting himself be loved on, Pedrito thinks that it turned out well after all that Defensa Zapatista answered first, because this was why the promotora was hugging him and from within the embrace, Pedrito understands that no, the world is not going to end, that as long as the embrace lasts the world will keep giving opportunity to life, because that is what life is, an embrace.

Pedrito is reflecting on this when the little girl appears in the doorway and says to him, “Hurry up Pedrito, we have to fill up the team so we can bring a challenge.”

Pedrito separates himself from the embrace of the promotora as if tearing his heart out, but he goes over to the little girl because he is, in addition to a little boy, a Zapatista, and a Zapatista can’t allow the team to be let down on their account. Before leaving the room Pedrito says to the little girl: “But I’m telling you straight-up right now that I’m not playing goalie anymore, put the one-eyed horse on goalie, I want to play forward.”

Defensa Zapatista is not going to let a boy have the last word in this story, so she says:

Forward? Puh-leeze. SupGaleano showed me some videos and now I have a new plan. Now we are going to play according to the science of ‘total soccer’ like those Dutch orange ones. Don’t you know you have to study for that? You do. Both things, science and art. Later I’ll explain it to you. Just as soon as we fill up the team you’ll see, don’t worry, there will be more of us, it might take awhile, but there will be more.”

The little boy and the little girl leave. It is only then that we can see that the little girl has on an orange t-shirt that hangs nearly to her heels and taped on the back are crooked letters that spell “Cruyff”i and below them: “Resistance and Rebellion.”

Off to the side of the pasture waits a motley crew including: a old horse leisurely chewing on a empty tobacco bag; a short man with gray hair shivering despite his coat; and a tall, thin man who stands out for his height and the strange hat he is wearing. He is using his magnifying glass to study with great interest a small strange animal that, at a distance seems to be a dog… or a cat.. or a cat-dog.

Nearby, where the community has been working to deepen the scratches in the wall, anonymous hands have written, below and to the left, a graffiti that is bursting in colour. It reads:

We are the National Indigenous Congress and we are going for everything, and it will be for everyone.”

In a bunker far away, alarms are going off and the earth is trembling. Above, brother John Berger, smiling, has drawn a question in the clouds, for whoever looks high: “Y tú qué?”

-*-

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The Urgent and the Important

The story I’m going to tell you is a little bit sad.

It’s sad because it includes the tears of a little Zapatista girl. But despite this, or precisely because of it, I’m going to tell the story because after hearing you speak, present, reflect, and try to respond and teach, I’ve been thinking about what’s next. I don’t know if you all have thought about it. If not, I recommend that you do—think about what’s next.

I’ve imagined that we’re in another time, further ahead. Here goes:

This time, without being announced by a soccer ball rolling in, “Defensa Zapatista” has arrived at my hut. It’s clear that she’s been crying, and a few tears still glow on her cheeks. “Defensa Zapatista” maintains that little girls don’t cry, that that’s for men, and that women are stronger. So I understood why the little girl had come to my hut, where there are only ghosts and silences. Here she is safe, here she can cry without anyone, except me, seeing her. Here she can put her strength away in a box and let feelings fill her gaze and sorrow become liquid.

I didn’t say anything. I acted like I didn’t see her and that I was busy sweeping tobacco and crumpled up papers off the floor around the table.
Finally, she wiped her tears with a red handkerchief, sighed, and cleared her throat in order to ask me:

Hey Sup, do you know what it’s like to have a bad dream?”
“I sure do,” I responded, “bad dreams are called nightmares [pesadillas].”

She looked intrigued and asked, “And what’s the purpose of those quesadillas, why do they exist and who made them? Because they’re beastly.”

They’re called “pesadillas,” not “quesadillas.” Quesadillas are good because they have cheese. Pesadillas aren’t good. But why do you ask?”

I had a really bad dream and I woke up with something like a stomach ache, like something wasn’t okay, something was hurting,” she said.

Tell me about it,” I encouraged her and lit my pipe.

“Well, I dreamed we were in the community assembly and as it turns out the situation is really rough because of the bad system. And a lot of people are coming here and asking to stay in the community because other places have become unliveable, and so the people come here because we Zapatistas did in fact prepare.

But the people are coming from other countries, as far away as goodness knows where.

So there isn’t enough food and the community has to make the land produce more, because as Zapatistas we have to support other peoples of the world because we’re, as they say, compañerismos. So in the assembly they’re looking at how to organize to be able to give food to those brothers and sisters.

So then someone in the assembly says that we have to find more terrain where we can plant.

And then someone else says what about in the pasture where we play soccer, the Petumax flowers are already blooming, like white, but not, sort of gray but not, I think cream-colored or whatever you call that colournn.

And they say the saw the Chene’k Caribe flower too, which is true because I play with those flowers and pretend they’re little baby chicks.

And that they also saw the “Sun” flower which seems like a sunflower, but isn’t.

So then that compañero said that means that the soil is good in the pasture, that we can plant corn and beans there. And then I got, as they say, worried because there in the pasture is where the one-eyed horse lives and where we play soccer. Well, we don’t exactly play because we haven’t completed the team yet, but we practice and we train really hard.

So then the authority asks the assembly if there’s agreement that we’ll plant in the pasture and make a milpa [corn field] there, and if there’s anyone who disagrees they should say their piece so we can figure out what to do.

So then the whole assembly is silent and nobody asks to speak. And I want to talk to say that we shouldn’t plant in the pasture because then we won’t be able to play, or train that is. But I don’t know how I’m going to say it, because I can see that we do need food to support those other sisters and brothers.

And I’m really upset because nobody says anything and I don’t have the thinking to convince the assembly, and I can see in the authority’s eye that they’re about to say that if nobody has any other comments, that they’ll approve the proposal to plant in the pasture.

And there I am, looking for a good thought and I can’t find one, and I get mad that I can’t find the right words and with the anger the tears come out, and it’s not that I’m crying, it’s just the anger of not knowing what to say.

And right there I woke up and I came running. And on the way I got even madder because of that stinking bad dream, and who sent it or why they’re doing that.”

As she’s been talking, “Defensa Zapatista’s” face is reproducing her pain and desperation.

I remained quiet, but the little girl kept looking at me as if waiting for what I was going to say.

mg_8960

Even though I realized that “Defensa Zapatista” hadn’t come to sit on the [psychiatrist’s] divan, nor just to vent, I was looking for the right words. I understood that the girl hadn’t come just to hide, she was also looking for answers, and me, well I’m the Subcomandante of stainless steel, the one who, according to “Defensa Zapatista’s” criteria, has the grave defect of being a man. But nobody’s perfect, and besides, I let the Cat-Dog climb up on the keyboard and ruin the texts, and sometimes I have cookies to share (which, for Defensa Zapatista means that she and her little animal gobble up all the ones I like and the ones I don’t, too, and they just leave me the empty package), and I tell stories where she and her gang get into mischief and come out triumphant.

So I’m presenting with you all with the, as they say, context, so you understand that the girl had not really come to tell me a bad dream, but rather to present me with a problem.

When I had been looking through the trunk of memories that the deceased SupMarcos left in my custody, I remembered having seen something that could be useful. I gestured to “Zapatista Defense” that she should wait and I started looking. Under some drawings that John Berger made when he was in Cideci, I found what I was looking for. The papers were shabby, stained with tobacco and humidity, but the clumsy handwriting of the deceased was still legible.

I picked my pipe back up and lit it. I read almost in silence, only making a few gestures and emitting incomprehensible grunts. The girl watched me in suspense, waiting. The Cat-Dog had left the computer mouse in peace and, its ears perked, remained expectant.

After acting all important for a few minutes, I told her:

There it is, there’s no problem. I’ve found the solution to your nightmare. It turns out that in this writing by the deceased SupMarcos (may baby Jesus keep him in holy glory and may the dear Virgen fill him with blessings) explains that nightmares are problems and that they can be alleviated if you resolve the problem of the nightmare.

Then he says that dreams are the solution to nightmares.

That what you have to do is find the solution and then the good dream comes out.

That way you save a ton of money on psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and antacids. Okay, that’s not related.

And in this other writing, he says that the problem isn’t just knowing what’s urgent and what’s important.

What’s urgent is what you have to do right now, and what’s important is, for example, what you know you must do.

For example, in the case of the bad dream you’re telling me about, what’s urgent is that the compas have to increase food production; and what’s important is not to lose the space where you play.

In which case it’s a big problem, because if you protect the place to play, well, then they won’t plant there and there will be hunger; and if they plant there, well then there won’t be any more place to play.”

Defensa Zapatista” nodded, convinced of what I was saying to her. I continued:

So the deceased says here that that’s called ‘exclusive options,’ which is to say that you do one thing or the other, but you can’t do both. SupMarcos says that this is almost always false, which is to say that it’s not necessarily one or the other, but rather that something different can be imagined. And he gives the example of the originary peoples, which is to say the indigenous.

He says: ‘For example, the originary peoples, going back centuries, have always done two things at the same time: what’s urgent and what’s necessary. What’s urgent is to survive, which is to say to not die, and what’s important is to live. And they resolve this with resistance and rebellion, which is to say that they resist dying and at the same time they create, with their rebellion, another way of living.’ So he says that whenever possible, it’s necessary to think about creating something else.”

I put down the papers and I turned to “Zapatista Defense”:

So I believe what you can do with the problem of your bad dream is explain to the assembly what’s urgent and what’s important.

Which is to say that both parts have good thought behind them, but if you pick one, well, you’ve screwed the other.

So explain to the assembly that it doesn’t necessarily have to be one thing or the other, but rather that it’s necessary to think of something else, something different but so that both objectives are met.

And then it’s not that the assembly’s problem is getting resolved nor that your problem is getting resolved, but rather that it’s a different problem altogether.

And it’s the new problem that you both have to think about, that is, you and the assembly.”

The whole time the girl had been sitting quietly with her chin in her little hand, paying attention.

Contrary to his usual habits, the Cat-Dog had also been still.

Zapatista Defence” stayed silent, looking fixedly at the floor.

I don’t know much about what happens in the head of a little girl. Of a boy, sure, perhaps because I haven’t matured despite the many kilometres I’ve covered. But girls, whatever their age, continue to be a mystery that perhaps science will one day be able to solve.

Suddenly, “Zapatista Defence” turned to look at the Cat-Dog, and he in turn looked at her.

The mutual glance lasted only a few seconds, and the Cat-Dog began to jump, bark and meow. The girl’s little face lit up and she practically shouted: “Yes, the Cat-Dog!” and she began to jump and dance together with the animal.

I didn’t just put on my confused face, in fact I didn’t understand what all this was about. But, resigned, I waited for ““Zapatista Defence” and the Cat-Dog to calm down, which didn’t happen for several more minutes that seemed eternal to me. Finally the commotion died down and, still excited, the girl explained:

It’s the Cat-Dog, Sup! I have to bring the Cat-Dog to my bad dream and I have to bring him to the assembly and he’s going to help me and so then it’ll be a good dream.

The solution to the problem was right here but I hadn’t studied it.

It’s the Cat-Dog, it’s always been the Cat-Dog.”

I think that my “What?!” face must have been very obvious, because “Defensa Zapatista” felt obliged to clarify:

Look I’ll explain it to you Sup: the Cat-Dog, is he a cat? No. Is he a dog? Not that either. So then he’s neither one thing nor the other, but rather something else, he’s a Cat-Dog. If I show the Cat-Dog to the assembly, obviously they’re going to see that we have to do something else, so both sides can happily be in mutual agreement.”

I couldn’t understand how the assembly was going to make the, as they say, “epistemological leap” from that thing, that is to say the Cat-Dog, to the disjuncture between the pasture for playing soccer or the pasture for planting. But it seems that “Defensa Zapatista” wasn’t worried about that.

The next day, on the way to town, I passed by the pasture. Night was already beginning to fall and the sound of those who were scratching at the wall continued. There was still enough light, because “Zapatista Defence” was on the field, together with a group in which I recognized the old one-eyed horse that accompanies her sometimes, the Cat-Dog, and Pedrito. There were also two men, one short and one tall, whom I didn’t recognize and I assumed that they were from the Sixth and that the girl was trying to incorporate them into her perpetually incomplete team.

The girl saw me from afar and greeted me with an energetic wave of her hand. I returned the greeting, realizing that “Zapatista Defence” had resolved the problem because she laughed and ran from one side to the other, showing the group where they should position themselves in some sort of formation that looked to me to have the shape of a snail.

I continued on my path, remembering the ending to that day of tears, when “Defensa Zapatista,” then smiling and with her face lit-up, said goodbye: “I’m leaving now Sup, I’ve got to go.”

And what are you going to do?” I asked her.

She was already gaining distance when she shouted: “I’m going to dream.”

While I waited for the compañeros and compañeras to whom I had to give a talk, the night arrived with its own steps and sounds.

I thought then that perhaps the deceased SupMarcos would have liked to have been present for “Defensa Zapatista’s” dream to know how she made her argument and what the decision of the assembly was. Or perhaps he was in fact there. Because, at least in these lands, the dead walk around. They laugh and cry with us, they struggle with us, they live with us.

Thank you very much.

From the CIDCI-Unitierra, San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.

SupGaleano.

Mexico, January 2017.

iHendrik Johannes “Johan” Cruyff, a Dutch professional soccer player and coach famous for promoting the philosophy known as “Total Football.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johan_Cruyff

 

http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2017/02/02/que-sigue-ii-lo-urgente-y-lo-importante/

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July 19, 2016

Food as Art of Resistance: the EZLN deliver food to the teachers in Comitan, Chiapas

Filed under: Maize, Zapatista — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 9:43 am

 

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Food as Art of Resistance:  the EZLN deliver food to the teachers in Comitan, Chiapas

 

IMG_9840-300x200Comitan Chiapas. 9 July. This morning a commission from the Zapatista “caracol” of La Realidad brought the teachers in resistance food, cooking utensils, and medicine. This support from the men and women rebels of Chiapas takes place in the context of the teachers strike. They are protesting the self-proclaimed “education reform” imposed by President Peña Nieto and supported by Velasco Coello’s state government.

The food supplies are to support the educators belonging to the “Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (CNTE – or National Coordinator of Education Workers)[1] and “are the result of the collective farm work of the Zapatista towns, regions and zones, like the MAREZ (Municipios Autónomos Rebeldes Zapatista – Autonomous Rebellious Zapatista municipalities)[2] and the Councils of Good Government. So it’s an ‘honest’ contribution obtained, as the majority of people in Mexico and the world get rewards:  through work,” the EZLN emphasised in a 6 June communique titled “Food as Art of Resistance”.

IMG_9848-300x200Amongst the items donated by the Zapatista Base Communities to Sections 7 to 40 of the dissident teachers’ union are 570 kilos of beans; 420 kilos of rice; 350 kilos of sugar; 15 litres of cooking oil; 21 kilograms of soap; 21 kilograms of salt; 28 kilograms of coffee; 1,571 kilos of non-genetically modified corn; 840 kilos of “tostadas”; 400 kilograms of “pinole”; 5 cooking pots; 5 ladles; 5 storage containers and 4 boxes of medicine.

“The support from the EZLN is an injection of energy into the teachers’ movement and it gives us courage to move forward” stated teachers in Comitan upon receiving the supplies. “The movement is alive and as relevant as when it began the past 15th of May,” added the teachers, now almost 2 months out on strike.

IMG_9897-300x200“In total, the 5 ‘caracoles’ delivered 10 tons of food with a value of approximately 290 thousand Mexican pesos” detailed the EZLN, who also delivered food to the men and women teachers today in San Cristobal de las Casas and yesterday in the community of Palenque and to be delivered tomorrow in the capital of Tuxtla Gutierrez.

 

 

Translated by the UK Zapatista Translation Service for Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

 

http://www.pozol.org/?p=12930

[1]. The Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (CNTE) is a teachers union in Mexico founded on December 17, 1979 as alternative to the mainstream Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (SNTE) by teachers of the SNTE in the poorer, southern states of Mexico.

[2]. MAREZ represent small self-proclaimed territories under the control of the Zapatista Base Communities as declared in December 1994. The EZLN (military body) states that it does not participate in these spaces of self-government and that its interest is not in taking power and that no member or leader of the Clandestine Indigenous Revolutionary Army can occupy any (civil) positions or roles of authority.

 

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July 11, 2016

El sijomal

Filed under: Bachajon, Maize — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:17 am

 

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El sijomal

 

By Xun Betan

6-1-600x407Na’ba sbah te tseltal winik. Photo: Elizabeth Ruiz

 

Ta yuhil octubre, shachel a’tel sijomal; ta sbahbeyal ya yich’ pasel selab sok sk’altayel. Ta shahchel noviembre ay te stsajel sok sk’utel awal ixim yu’un ya yich’ ts’unel. Ay to mach’a ya sts’un ta shahchibal yuhil diciembre. Ta enero sok febrero yuhil yak’entayel. Ta yutil k’altik ay bayel ta chahp itaj ya yich’ ts’unel sok te stukel nax ya xch’iy mohel.

That is how the trensipal from Bachajon begins the story (+). He describes the second planting of maize (el maíz,) which in the Tseltal language we call “sijomal”. Planting begins in October with the preparation of the fields. In November the seeds are selected and at the end of the month and at the beginning of December the first seeds are planted. In the months of January and February, the fields are cleaned and tended to, then it is the time to plant and nurture along the other plants which grow amongst the corn and in the process enrich the soil with nutrients.

The “sijomal” maize is planted at the end of November and the beginning of December to take advantage of the winter rains which tend to fall in some parts of the jungle in Chiapas. Like every year, the farmers in the region prepare their fields and wait for the first big rain storm. The trensipal says how this year, the planting season changed a lot and the rain arrived late and the harvest that year of the habil k’altik (as we’d say in Tseltal) had very little corn and some parts of fields were completely dry. Now, for the “sijomal” many people don’t plant until the month of December because of the lack of rain. The drastic changes in the climate are greatly affecting the production of maize. So we pray and hold rituals to ask for the health and bountiful harvest from the plants, as part of the field, as part of our foods, just as our ancestors did.

Rituals are ways communities maintain a relationship with Mother Earth, harmonising the production of our food while also nurturing community life. On the other hand there are projects which day after day invade the communities, bringing with them destruction of the natural habitat and community life. This is what has happened with the cattle project in the jungle and the planting of African Palm. Paying for the use of the environment, is just part of taking advantage of the natural resources, which leads to the devastation of the jungle, and then the campesinos are blamed, which later will lead to the giving of permission for the energy reform law on the part of Chiapas, the Pozo Petroleros. Some of this we’ve already mentioned in a EZLN communique where we described this serious problem and the same thing is being said by the indigenous party supporters.

This is how rituals are ways that unite and convoke indigenous communities to maintain on-going community relations. Far from thinking that spirituality is pointless or boring as has happened in some cases in other religions, spirituality embodies knowing, harmony and community. In this way spirituality is a way people systematise knowledge and create internal organisational structures, giving way to the calpules. Within these ranks are more traditional, organizational roles like capitanes, mardomas, and then trensipaletik. “Trensipaletik” are people recognized by their communities for having great knowledge and moral authority. Additionally there’s the deacons or j’abatineletik, who are servants of God’s word representing a local Mayan, Catholic spirituality.

On the other hand we have publicity from the religious sects and the new lines of Catholicism which pressure people to disassociate from their identity and land, encourage dependency and push people to merely be consumers of assistance projects and projects financed by the State. We have the planting of the African Palm in the jungle and other cases as examples. This same situation can also be seen in the new educational model; the use of green school uniforms in indigenous communities is discriminatory; and the school schedule takes children away not just from the land but their families for the whole day. (*) There’s also the school food programme and these same children don’t know what powders they are consuming and they’ll never know about fields and the planting season.

For some years now, the large expanse of the territory encompassed by the ejidos San Sebastián and San Jerónimo in Bachajón, along with the communal lands of Casa del Pueblo de Venustiano Carranza have been in the targets of developers and government who would like to seize it themselves. These cases, along with the dispossession of the campesinos in the Yucatan and in Quintana Roo, among others, show how the indigenous communities have been a hindrance to the System, which seeks in any way it can to banish people from their land. The murder of Berta Caceres is an example of the situation of elimination indigenous communities face and what happens when resisting big deadly projects. The constant murders of women, homophobia, kidnapping and disappearance of people is terrifying and is part of a model that generates terror.

Despite the situation of war started by the State against the indigenous people and the most poor, in the fields we still plant maize, squash, chili and various types of vegetables and fruits, these not only keep the communities alive, but big cities too. Even though the State tried to legalise the planting of genetically modified corn, many people refused to be silent and raised their voices to stop it. It’s the same thing with telecommunications law Article 23 which wanted to prohibit the use of indigenous languages in the national media, and thanks to action by Mardonio Carballo this was stopped. We hope the same will happen with other indigenous communities struggling to defend their land against large wind projects, mining, dams, highways, pipelines among others. Despite all of this we continue and will continue resisting to maintain our connection with Mother Earth.

The trensipal ended the conversation by saying that his corn plants had already begun to flower and in some places there were small ears of corn. When his plants have ears of corn, a ceremony will be held, just as his parents taught him, to thank Mother Earth because soon there’ll be corn to feed his family. It’s also noticeable that the various trees and flowers in the countryside have begun to bloom, these will feature in the celebrations of Semana Santa (Easter Week). This will be followed by habil k’altik, the agricultural year which begins in May with the feast of Santa Cruz. Meanwhile the colorin, peach, mangos , avocados, jocotes, the cuchunuk and lots more are beginning to give us snichimal ko’tantik.

 

Na’ba sbah te tseltal winik[1]

Ma’yuk mach’a halbilbil yu’un, te tseltal winik bayel binti ya sna’

Te tseltal winik xchamet yo’tan ya yil te ek’etik sok spisil bintik ya xlaj sohl ta ch’ulchan,

sok nix te bintik nak’ajtik ta yut mamal nahbil…

K’alal ya sjak’ yo’tan, te tseltal ya xk’opoj ta stukel nax sok te yo’tane.

 

A Tseltal person knows a lot of things without anyone having taught them

Full of admiration contemplating the stars and all that happens in the sky.

Just like the inside of a well also hides things

When a Tseltal draws a breath, they speak alone with their hearts.

 

[1] Avelino Guzmán. a Tseltal Poet, translator and writer from Bachajón, Chiapas, 1975.

 

(+) trensipal – elder

(*) translator’s note:  One way indigenous identity is proudly expressed is through wearing traditional clothing. The community believes it discriminatory to force children to wear school uniform. Zapatista schools, contrary to State schools, have no uniform. 

 

Translated by the UK Zapatista Translation Service

 

Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

 

http://www.chiapasparalelo.com/opinion/2016/06/el-sijomal/

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March 11, 2016

Transgenic Maize will not be sown in Mexico

Filed under: Maize — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:26 pm

 

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Transgenic Maize will not be sown in Mexico

 

Coloured-corn-cobs-from-Mexico_1200x600

Scientists beat Monsanto in court; native maize varieties (pictured above) will be preserved

Source: http://gmwatch.org/news/latest-news/16783

On 8 March, a court headed by Judge Benjamín Soto Sánchez notified via an appeal sentence to the Mexican Agriculture Department (Sagarpa) that they are not allowed to grant release or cultivation permissions for transgenic maize until the collective trial promoted by scientists, specialists and farmers is definitively resolved.

This resolution revokes the one that last August had denied the permanent ban on cultivation for transgenic maize. But because of the immediate appeal brought by the Maize Collectivity (Colectividad del Maíz), the ban remained in place at all times.

“Today, we can claim that the precautionary banning measure is definitive until the collective trial or an appeal trial is resolved,” declared the native maize defenders in a press release.

Scientists and specialists signing and heading the collective complaint have no conflicts of interest, since they don’t depend on or have any relationship with transnational companies.

Among the plaintiff scientists are Antonio Turrent Fernández, agronomist; Víctor Manuel Toledo, in the socio-environmental area; Julio Glockner and Narciso Barrera Bassols, in the anthropology, history and culture areas; Raúl Hernández Garciadiego, in ethics and gastronomical heritage; Miguel Concha Malo, director of the Fray Vitoria Centre, in the Human Rights area, and Luciano Concheiro and Patricia Moguel in the food heritage area.

The transnational companies denounced since July 2013 are Monsanto, Syngenta, Pioneer-Dupont and Dow. The scientists also denounced Sagarpa and Semarnat.

Soto Sanchez’s sentence establishes that the collective trial showed the illicit presence of transgenes in native maize crops, so that we can claim that the violation of Mexican and international laws has been demonstrated. Because of this, the appeal sentence bans the granting of permissions for commercial cultivation of transgenic maize.

Double triumph of scientists against transgenic maize

The federal appeal court sentence granted another victory to this group of scientists, inasmuch as if experimental crops were sown, they would be subject to control and a monthly assessment by the federal judge and the scientists winning this legal battle.

Results from experimental cultivations, permissions for which were granted in 2009, have not been assessed at all; with this new ruling, there will be monthly assessments of the containment measures and their efficacy, giving a judge power to revoke permission for the experiments.

Furthermore, transgenic maize intended to be cultivated for research purposes and using glyphosate-based herbicides will be assessed by judges and the plaintiff scientists.

English translation: Observatorio OMG 
Source: La Jornada de Orientehttp://www.lajornadadeoriente.com.mx/2016/03/08/maiz-transgenico-no-sera-sembrado-cientificos-le-ganan-monsanto/

Source: http://gmwatch.org/news/latest-news/16783

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November 4, 2015

Appellate Court Upholds Suspension of Planting Permits for GM Corn

Filed under: Maize — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 8:32 pm

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Appellate Court Upholds Suspension of Planting Permits for GM Corn

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Corncobs

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La Jornada: Angélica Enciso L.

Because it could cause irreversible damage to corn’s centre of origin, located in Mexico, the federal government may not issue permits for planting genetically modified corn to the transnational corporations seeking to introduce their products into the country, while legal proceedings presented by citizens are settled.
A court ruled in favour of the appeal filed by the Corn Collective against the August 19 judicial decision — which had lifted the moratorium on cultivation of GM corn that has been in effect since 2013. With this ruling, the suspension of issuance of planting permits has been upheld, reported attorney René Sánchez Galindo.

Sánchez Galindo explained that Federal Magistrate Benjamin Soto Sánchez, head of the Second Unitary [Appellate] Court for Civil and Administrative Matters of the First Circuit, confirmed the provisional suspension such that the Secretariats of Environment and Agriculture may not authorize experimental, pilot or commercial planting to the transnationals Monsanto, Pioneer and Dow, among others.

The suspension against issuance of planting permits has been in effect since September 2013, when dozens of researchers and citizens filed a class action lawsuit in defence of native maize and against the cultivation of genetically modified organisms in the country. The lawsuit was accepted by a court which decided, as a precautionary measure, to suspend the process of issuing planting permits. At that time, the planting of GM corn was entering its commercial phase.

The Appeal

On August 19, Judge Francisco Peñaloza Heras, with the Twelfth District Court in Civil Matters, lifted the precautionary measure that prohibited planting of the grain. In response, the Corn Collective filed the appeal that is still not definitively resolved*, but the ruling by Judge Soto confirmed the suspension in the planting of transgenic corn, Sánchez Galindo explained.

Sánchez described the federal court’s argument: the law requires preserving evidence in a judicial proceeding while an appeal works its way through the legal system; given that once GM Corn is planted, the damage would be irreversible.  [MV Note: The risk is unacceptably high that wind-born pollen will contaminate native corns.]

The class action lawsuit against the planting of GM Corn was filed in July 2013. With the accompanying suspension, it has faced 100 legal challenges filed by the federal government and the transnational corporations, including 22 petitions for amparo that 17 federal courts have settled, including the First Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN). In all cases, the courts have decided to uphold the precautionary principle and prevent planting the modified seed.

Supreme Court Ruling on GM Soybean Expected Today

Bernardo Bátiz, adviser in the class action lawsuit on behalf of native corn and former Attorney General of the Federal District, said that the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court, which today will rule on the appeal filed by Yucatán beekeepers against the planting of GM Soybean, must consider that we are a mega-diverse country biologically, culturally and agriculturally.

In a statement released by the collective, the attorney argued that planting GM Corn, Soybean or any other GMO would have many negative effects, including that Mexican honey would no longer be organic.

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/11/04/sociedad/038n1soc?partner=rss

*Excerpted from Aristegui Noticias:

Protesta_Maiz_Transgenico3-600x274

Additionally, the Court scheduled a hearing on November 17 for those involved.

By telephone, Sánchez Galindo stated: “The Court also set November 17th as the date for the hearing of the appeal.  It is going to be settled there. First will be the hearing, then the Court will have to make its final ruling on the appeal and whether or not the suspension is upheld, but for now it is confirmed that planting is suspended by court order.”

Sanchéz Galindo pointed out that at the hearing, “citizens, scientists and all the defendants — the transnational companies, SAGARPA [Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food] and SEMARNAT [Secretariat for the Environment and Natural Resources]. We are all scheduled for the 17th.”

Sánchez Galindo further considered that there would not be a ruling the day of the hearing, but that the Court could take up to 3 months to hand down its decision. …

http://aristeguinoticias.com/0311/mexico/sigue-suspendida-la-siembra-de-maiz-transgenico-en-el-pais

Translated by Jane Brundage

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October 31, 2015

GMO Ban Pending, Monsanto Hopes to Double Sales in Mexico

Filed under: Maize — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:01 pm

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GMO Ban Pending, Monsanto Hopes to Double Sales in Mexico

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monsanto-gmo-corn-protest-mexico_crop1446041685823.jpeg_1718483346

A Mexican woman protests against genetically modified corn in Mexico City as part of a larger national movement against Monsanto. | Photo: Xinhua This content was originally published by teleSUR at the following address: “http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/GMO-Ban-Pending-Monsanto-Hopes-to-Double-Sales-in-Mexico–20151028-0016.html”. If you intend to use it, please cite the source and provide a link to the original article. http://www.teleSURtv.net/english

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A pending court decision on whether to uphold a ban on GM corn will be crucial in determining the corporation’s fate in Mexico.

Monsanto wants to double its sales in Mexico over the next five years, but the agribusiness giant’s hopes may be dashed if the country decides to uphold a ban on genetically modified corn crops.

Monsanto’s announcement on Tuesday of its goals to increase business in Mexico by 2020 come as Mexican courts consider whether to allow GM corn in the country’s agricultural sector. Meanwhile, ecological, Indigenous, and farmers’ movements are pushing for a ban, continuing a longstanding resistance against genetically modified organisms and in defence of biodiversity in Mexico.

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A Mexican women carries cobs of different corn varieties during a protest in Mexico City. I Photo: AFP

A Mexican women carries cobs of different corn varieties during a protest in Mexico City. I Photo: AFP

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Although Mexico prohibited Monsanto and other biotechnology corporations from planting GM corn in the country in 2013, a Mexican court overturned the ban in August, opening the door for a possible surge in Monsanto’s business.

But with a final ruling still pending while appeals are heard, strong public opposition to GMOs could still push for a decision to uphold the ban. Mexican courts could soon release their decision, according to Reuters.

Mexico is considered the birthplace of domesticated maize, with the first crops planted more than 8,000 years ago by ancient Mayan and Olmec civilizations. There are dozens of maize varieties native to Mexico, whose protection from GMO takeover is considered critical to cultural, seed, and food sovereignty, according to land and environmental defenders.

Anti-GMO campaigns have also raised concerns about the impact of Monsanto’s products on human health. Earlier this year, the World Health Organization ruled that Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer, glyphosate “probably” causes cancer.

The majority of Monsanto’s profits in Mexico, 70 percent, come from genetically engineered corn, which the company claims will increase local farmers’ yields. Opponents, however, argue that traditional agroecological farming methods and native seeds can boost small farmers’ harvests and protect biodiversity.

In fiscal year 2015, Monsanto reported $US400 million in sales in Mexico of a total $US15 billion global sales.

The movement against GMOs in Mexico is part of a larger mobilization of social organizations and researchers across Latin America that have also spoken out against Monsanto products in pursuit of wider ban of the biotechnology company in the region.

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/GMO-Ban-Pending-Monsanto-Hopes-to-Double-Sales-in-Mexico–20151028-0016.html

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October 1, 2015

Mexico’s National Day of Corn Strengthens Citizen Resolve to Keep Mexico Free of GM Corn – Greenpeace

Filed under: Maize — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:49 pm

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Mexico’s National Day of Corn Strengthens Citizen Resolve to Keep Mexico Free of GM Corn – Greenpeace

Photo: Greenpeace-Mexico

Photo: Greenpeace-Mexico

Aristegui Noticias: Greenpeace Mexico commemorated September 29—National Day of Corn—by intensifying its campaign of signatures calling on Mexico’s Courts to ban the cultivation of genetically modified corn.

On Tuesday, various artists and members of the organization gathered at the Federal Judiciary Building … to ask the Mexican justice system to prevent the cultivation of GM corn crops in our territory. A communiqué [released by Greenpeace] reported: “Currently, the planting of GM corn in Mexico is suspended, thanks to the class action lawsuit filed by 53 scientists, intellectuals, farmers, artists, activists, and 22 civil society organizations that have put up a strong legal battle.”

Singer Rubén Albarrán, actress Julieta Egurrola and actor Héctor Bonilla [photo, left], together with Greenpeace activists and volunteers, took part in forming a human ear of corn [photo, right] to show that we are many who defend our corn. They reported: “In the coming days, Mexican courts will decide definitively whether to allow or prohibit the planting of GM corn in our country. Up to now, for more than 20 years, we have prevented its authorization, and we are confident that if we continue relying on your support, we will definitely succeed!”

Sandra Laso, head of the Healthy Eating Campaign, Tierra Sana [Healthy Earth], at Greenpeace, stressed that since Mexico is the site of origin of 59 corn species and their varieties, the federal courts must protect this grain. Hence, she asked to take into account all the scientific arguments brought by the Collectivity of Corn in order to determine the future of this seed, considering its relevance at the cultural level and that it is now [and has always been] a staple of the Mexican diet.

Monsanto Wants to Sow GMOs

José Antonio Tiburcio, director of Monsanto’s Agricultural Transformation programme, reported that in one decade, starting in 2014, they have the objective of producing modernized [GM] corn in one million hectares in the south-southeast region of the country on behalf of 6,000 thousand producers.

He said that the project began last year and so far reports an annual investment of 1.5 million USD, so technical personnel sponsored by Monsanto might support the entire process understood as ranging from planting to the marketing of the [GM] corn.

Tiburcio recounted that in the United States 80% of corn produced is genetically modified; therefore, 80% of the corn that Mexico imports from the northern neighbour is also genetically engineered.
http://aristeguinoticias.com/2909/mexico/dia-nacional-del-maiz-crean-mazorca-humana-frente-al-poder-judicial/

Day of Corn became one of gratitude to farmers who continue sowing

Angélica Enciso L.

La Jornada, 30th September 2015

Corncobs

La Jornada, 30th September 2015

The National Day of Corn grew out of gratitude to the farmers who continue planting native corns. The heart of the celebration were ears of corn in many colours, messages and ceremonies in indigenous languages, and the tasting of tamales and corn in the Botanical Garden at the National Autonomous University of Mexico [UNAM].

Chef Enrique Olvera, recognized a few days ago for his culinary career [Chefs’ Choice Award, awarded by vote of chefs in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants], explained that in the course of his work, he chats with his customers about different corns, as if they were wine. Speaking to dozens of peasant farmers who took part in the celebration, he said:

“We talk about the harvest, about the region, about the producer. It is the best way of paying tribute to you.”

Chef Enrique added that we must stop talking about the tortilla as a commonplace, as a vehicle for eating a taco or as something simple, and begin “valuing it, seeing the importance and diversity that the corns have for making the tortilla, the ones best for making pinole [corn beverage], for preparing pozole [corn soup], for using corns in the best way.”

Mexican cuisine is a collective effort, we rely on you: “Each corn expresses a territory. In each one we find a different flavour.”

Speaking in the face of the latent threat of sowing GM corn in Mexico, Chef Enrique added: “I would like to thank everyone who has taken part in this struggle. We are part of this community. We will raise our voices when necessary.”

The celebration began with dances and rituals, with a ceremony in Nahuatl symbolizing gratitude for the [just-concluded corn] harvest. Then came the messages, like the one from Cristina Barros with the campaign Without Corn There Is No Country [Sin maíz, no hay país], who pointed out the commitment of the people who work in the countryside, “dedicated to planting our corns, they are coping with climate change with our own corn and seeking strategies” with the corn [hand-breeding new varieties]; such knowledge would be impossible if corn is privatized.

Adelita San Vicente, director of Seeds of Life [Semillas de Vida], argued that this Day of Corn, under the slogan, “Let’s shuck the violence, Stop the agricidio [murder of agriculture]: Let’s fight for indigenous and peasant farming as an alternative civilization”, and she supports calling for “tending the cornfield in order to defend this way of life.”

Greenpeace activists and the actors Julieta Egurrola and Héctor Bonilla demanded that the corn be protected and that Mexicans’ pleas be heard asking for healthy, GMO-free, food.

At the end of the ceremony, activists positioned themselves on the steps of the building to form an ear of corn, and they unfurled a banner with the message:

United for a Mexico Without GMOs“.

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http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/09/30/sociedad/038n1soc?partner=rss

Translated by Jane Brundage

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August 27, 2015

Court’s Decision to Lift Ban on Planting GM Corn Is an Attack on Native Corn – Agro-Ecology Supporters

Filed under: Maize — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:24 pm

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Court’s Decision to Lift Ban on Planting GM Corn Is an Attack on Native Corn – Agro-Ecology Supporters

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Angélica Enciso L.

La Jornada, 25th August, 2015

In a statement, members of the network of agro-ecology supporters in 11 Chiapas municipalities working with the Union of Scientists Committed to Society (UCCS) pointed out that the court decision to lift the preventative measure that for the last two years has halted the process of authorizing planting permits for GM corn is an attack on the capacity of campesinos to manage their native corn in their local territories and in the country.

[Further,] they warned that Monsanto, Pioneer and Dupont already own 95 percent of [Mexico’s] native seeds, including corn, listed in the National Catalogue of Plant Varieties.

In face of this, they said, seeking the preservation of native corn is not an “emotional” whim, public misinformation or “invalid” evidence as stated by: “Monsanto employees or the one in charge of Science in the Office of the President (Francisco Bolívar). For us corn is identity, knowledge, territory, culture, history, health and the possibility of food self-sufficiency.”

In a statement, they pointed out that in overturning the precautionary measure, Judge Francisco Peñaloza, presiding over the Twelfth District Court for Civil Matters of the First Circuit, left out arguments presented by the UCCS that expose the health risks associated with industrialized and GM food.

Although the judge lifted the injunction, planting of GM corn cannot take place because [as soon as Judge Peñaloza’s ruling was announced,] the Corn Collective that had filed the original class action lawsuit against GM corn in 2013, immediately filed an appeal, which still has to be resolved in court.

Network members added that there is great interest among the transnational corporations driving the planting of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Mexico, because Monsanto expects GMOs to represent between 75 and 80 percent of its sales.

They pointed out that the judge did not consider that it is not possible to control the GMOs affecting native corn. [The judge’s ruling] violates “the right of present and future generations to access native Mexican biodiversity. We declare that we know the way in which Monsanto and the transnationals grouped together in Agro-bio together with the Mexican government manipulate and weave their strategies of misinformation.”

They added that cultivation of GM corn “has nothing to do climate change or hunger or supposed humanitarian aid: what they want is to steal our corn.”

Translated by Jane Brundage

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/08/25/sociedad/037n1soc?partner=rss

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August 23, 2015

The Dirty War against the Peoples of Corn

Filed under: Indigenous, Maize — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 8:21 am

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The Dirty War against the Peoples of Corn

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Silvia Ribeiro*

La Jornada, 22nd August 2015

On August 19, 2015, Judge Francisco Peñaloza Heras, presiding over the Twelfth District Court for Civil Matters, cancelled the precautionary measure [injunction] suspending the planting of transgenic corn in Mexico. The injunction was issued two years ago in response to a class action lawsuit for the damages these grains cause to biodiversity and health. However, the suspension remains in force, since the judge’s decision was immediately appealed by Collectivas AC, the legal representatives of the group of 53 people and 20 organizations that filed the class action suit in 2013.

The way Judge Peñaloza made the decision—ignoring arguments made by the plaintiffs and independent scientists, but basing it on the sayings of Monsanto and other companies—is another step in the dirty war against campesino corn and the peoples of the corn.

In sync with the judge’s decision, the transnationals of genetically modified organisms unleashed a barrage of comments to the press assuring that planting was permitted. As René Sánchez Galindo, a lawyer for the plaintiff group, reported: “Monsanto launched a new campaign of lies, since it is false that the planting of GM corn was permitted.”

Monsanto’s lies are not limited to legal aspects of the lawsuit. They devote significant time and resources to falsifying data in order to hide what’s really happening with GMOs in countries where planting is massive, like the United States, the country where Monsanto is headquartered.

Based on almost two decades of official statistics (not specific studies funded by enterprises that take partial data) in the country, the reality shows that GMOs are more expensive than existing hybrids, that GMO crop yields are lower on average, and that GMOs have resulted in an exponential increase in the use of pesticides, with devastating effects on soil, water, and the emergence of more than 20 glyphosate-resistant “superweeds”.

The industry claims that corn engineered with Bt toxin [Bacillus thuringiensis] decreased the use of pesticides, but fails to explain either that pests have been becoming resistant to Bt or that after an initial decline, pesticide use has increased every year. Therefore, companies are abandoning the sale of Bt corn seeds in order to sell GM corn seeds with stacked traits; that is, with Bt, tolerant to one or more highly toxic herbicides such as glyphosate, glufosinate, dicamba and even 2.4-d, thereby dramatically increasing the use of toxins.

Companies also claim that GM corn can “coexist” with native corn. But many scientific studies and statistics in many countries demonstrate the opposite: where GM crops are cultivated, there will always be contamination, whether by pollen carried on the wind or by insects (at much greater distances than those “anticipated” by the laws) or by the activities of transporting, storing or selling in retail outlets where GM products are not segregated from other seeds.

Many studies conducted in Mexico, including those carried out by Semarnat [Secretariat for the Environment and Natural Resources] itself, show hundreds of cases of GM contamination of native corn—even when planting GM corn is illegal. Legalizing the planting would brutally increase the contamination that directly threatens biodiversity and Mexico’s most important agricultural genetic heritage, bequeathed by the millions of campesino and indigenous peoples who created it and continue to maintain it.

In the United States, contamination from GMOs is pervasive. Monsanto made it a business: suing victims of genetic contamination for using their patented genes, which has yielded the company hundreds of millions of dollars in judgments or out of court settlements. Monsanto recently declared that it is not going to sue farmers in Mexico. It would be absurd to believe it. Of course they will, when they have the right conditions.

Since 2004, Monsanto has already published notices in newspapers in Chiapas warning that anyone engaged in the “illegal” use of their patented genes in “importing, planting, cultivating, selling or exporting” could suffer imprisonment and incur major fines. They also warned that anyone who is “familiar with any irregular situation” must contact Monsanto in order to avoid being accused of complicity. If someone didn’t follow through because he had no legal framework for doing so, one fears that now they [Monsanto] are exerting pressure to correct the situation.

The transnationals lie when they claim that GMOs are harmless to health. For starters, GM crops have a level of glyphosate—the herbicide declared carcinogenic by the World Health Organisation in March 2015—up to 200 times higher [than native corn]. Almost every month, new articles are published with evidence of damage to health or the environment from GMOs.

For example, on July 14, 2015, the peer-reviewed journal Agricultural Sciences published Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai’s research, which shows that GM soybean stores formaldehyde, a carcinogen, with a drastic decrease of glutathione, an antioxidant essential for cellular detoxification. The study analysed 6,497 experiments from 184 scientific institutions in 23 countries. The study lays bare the invalidity of the principle of “substantial equivalence” applied to assess GMOs—falsely claiming that [GMOs] are “equivalent” to conventional organisms. There is little knowledge of how GMOs affect corn biology and what impact GMOs have on biodiversity and the health of Mexico’s populace, who consume more corn than the people in any other country.

The war intensifies, but so does the resistance, like the “popular moratorium” against allowing GMOs in our fields and tables. And that’s not going to end.

*Silvia Ribeiro is Latin America Director for ETC (Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration), which is dedicated to the conservation and sustainable advancement of cultural and ecological diversity and human rights. Ribeiro is based in Mexico.

Translated by Jane Brundage

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/08/22/opinion/025a1eco?partner=rss

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August 21, 2015

Court Lifts Injunction Against Planting GM Corn, Citizen Group Files Appea

Filed under: Maize — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:06 pm

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Court Lifts Injunction Against Planting GM Corn, Citizen Group Files Appeal

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Mathieu Tourliere

Proceso, 20th August 2015
Mexico City – The Twelfth District Court on Civil Matters for the First Circuit today cancelled the precautionary measure [injunction] that has prevented transnational businesses, including Monsanto and Syngenta, from planting GM corn in Mexico.

René Sánchez Galindo, the group’s attorney, confirmed to Proceso that upon learning of the decision, the group of citizen members of the Demanda Colectiva [Class Action] AC, which brought the [original] class action lawsuit that blocked the sowing of GMOs in the country, filed an appeal. Sánchez Galindo pointed out that the issuance of permits remains blocked until the [appellate] court confirms or rejects the lower court’s decision to “knock down” the precautionary measure.

In September of 2013, the Twelfth District Court on Civil Matters for the Federal District had considered that by allowing the authorization of planting permits for GM corn, the risk would exist of endangering dozens of native species, due to the fact that Mexico is considered corn’s place of origin. For that reason, the judge implemented the precautionary measure that froze planting permits for the duration of the judicial procedure by which the Demanda Collectiva sought a judicial ruling on the legality of sowing GM corn.

Since the precautionary measure was issued, the Demanda Colectiva has successfully defended 93 legal challenges and 22 amparo [petitions for protection, similar to injunction] proceedings initiated by both the transnational corporations and federal agencies.

Sánchez Galindo explained that in determining that the injunction be lifted, Judge Francisco Peñaloza Heras considered that there are no elements such that the illegal presence of GMOs might exist in native corn. This [conclusion] was based solely on an assessment by the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection, despite independent and official studies from the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change that cite 89 cases of the presence of GM corn in native crops.

In a bulletin issued in the evening, the colectivo deplored that “the court decision failed to rule on all our arguments and evidence”; including that once released into the environment, GMO’s become “uncontrollable” both through pollination, but especially by the campesinos’ traditional system of exchanging seeds. Both circumstances threaten corn’s biodiversity in the country.

“On appeal,” the activists put forward in the bulletin, those arguments “could be heard”, and they trusted that “they will get a favourable ruling”.

Transnationals Applaud Court’s Decision

AgroBIO, the association that brings together businesses and sectors interested in planting GMOs in Mexico, affirmed that as a result of the judge’s decision announced yesterday, the Secretariats of Agriculture (Sagarpa) and the Environment (Semarnat) will begin to resume granting planting permits for GMOs. At the same time, it called on the government to take up again “immediately” the authorizations that were halted two years ago.
Ricardo Guimaraes, president both of AgroBio México’s Executive Board and of the multinational Dow AgroSciences, applauded that “the rule of law has favoured lifting this measure”, and he affirmed that GMO’s bring “economic and environmental benefits”.
With information from La Jornada.

Translated by Jane Brundage

http://www.proceso.com.mx/413305/2015/08/19/juzgado-da-luz-verde-a-la-siembra-de-maiz-transgenico-en-mexico

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June 19, 2015

Mexican Government Hid Presence of GMOs in Native Corns – Citizen Lawsuit

Filed under: Corporations, Human rights, Indigenous, Maize — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 8:30 am

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Mexican Government Hid Presence of GMOs in Native Corns – Citizen Lawsuit

Aristegui News

Photo: Cuartoscuro Archive/Enríque Ordóñez

Photo: Cuartoscuro Archive/Enríque Ordóñez

In connection with the class action lawsuit against genetically modified corn the Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) hid from the Twelfth District Court in Civil Matters in the Federal District that between 2004 and 2012 the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change (INECC), a public body chaired by the Secretary of the Environment himself, detected in several cases the illegal presence of GM corn in native corns in six states of the Republic.

René Sánchez Galindo, lawyer for the campaign Sin Maíz No Hay País [Without Corn There Is No Country], explained that Semarnat lied to the federal court in answering the class action lawsuit filed by 53 citizens and 20 civil organizations. In September 2013, they obtained an injunction to suspend the processing and authorization of permits for planting GM corn that has remained in force for 21 months and has withstood 93 challenges in 17 different federal courts.

The false information provided by Semarnat has been taken up again by the defendant transnational corporations: Monsanto, Syngenta, Pioneer-Dupont and Dow Agrosciences, in connection with judicial processing of the class action lawsuit.

The information from the INECC, Sánchez Galindo added, demonstrates that the flow of pollen and/or seed is uncontrollable. Commercial planting of GMOs has not even been approved, and the presence of GMOs in native corn varieties already exists.

By law, the presence of corns modified through genetic engineering should be zero. The cause could be due either to the importation of GM yellow corn for consumption, mainly by cattle, or to experimental and pilot plantings between 2009 and 2013.

If commercial planting of GM corn were to be allowed, the effect on the human right to the conservation, sustainable use and biodiversity of native corn varieties and their wild relatives, would be irreversible.

Translated by Jane Brundage

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May 25, 2015

The Genetic Memory of Corn and Cultures

Filed under: Maize — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 9:18 am

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The Genetic Memory of Corn and Cultures

By Phil and Kathy Dahl-Bredine

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In Mexico a judicial process is beginning, to decide whether genetically modified corn will be widely planted here in the centre of origin of corn. There is every reason against permitting this, from the fact that the seed is more expensive and does not yield more, to laboratory experiments that indicate potentially severe health effects from its consumption. The patent systems associated with these corns are effectively designed to concentrate control of seeds in corporate hands, and now the World Health Organization has determined that the herbicide, glyphosate, that most current GM corns are modified to resist, is a probable cause of cancer. The technological package that necessarily comes with GM corn raises production costs and creates total dependency on agribusiness corporations. Reason enough…

But here in Oaxaca those of us who still plant the rich variety of native corns have an additional reason. We have corns with a great variety of genetic strengths. In this Mixtec village of Yucuyoco it is the dry season. Yet many of us have just finished planting an ancient variety of corn called “cajete” that can resist months of drought until the first rains come in June.

This and hundreds of other varieties of native corns contain 10,000 years of genetic history and corresponding diversity. Biologists teach us that though all of this history is still in the memory of the corn seed, a corn plant at any one time “expresses” only a select part of the genetic richness it contains. What other hundreds of potential interesting “unexpressed” qualities might the cajete corn contain? But what characteristics will it express if contaminated with GM corn pollen? Will it still be drought resistant?

We wait to see if the culture of corporate privilege and political corruption that is behind the idea of patented genetically modified seeds is stronger than our reasons. In the meantime we wonder about how this culture came to be so dominant.

Perhaps a culture is like a living plant. Each one contains thousands of years of experience and values within it. We could perhaps call this its genetic history, its cultural memory. But it may be, much like the native corn, that at any one time in history a culture can only “express” a small part of its “genetic” richness.

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No doubt Western culture has in its genetic history basic human values such as community feeling, sharing, reciprocity, solidarity and community responsibility. Yet over the last so many centuries, the primary genetic material that is being “expressed” is an extreme individualism, unsustainable acquisitiveness, greed, and a violent economic, cultural, and military aggressiveness.

What turns of history and of ideological manipulation have caused this part of Western culture’s genetics to be expressed so forcefully and become dominant in our times is an interesting question.

Fortunately, the human family has alternative cultures, each with its own genetic history and cultural memory. In Yucuyoco, the dominant cultural traits still being expressed have to do with what some Oaxacan indigenous thinkers have called “communality”. In spite of centuries of cultural, economic and military aggression by Western civilization, communal landholding, mutual aid in the form of gueza, community service projects called tequios, and economic redistribution systems such as the mayordomias associated with village celebrations are dominant values of the culture. Human solidarity with the spirits of the Earth, with ancestors and with the Mother Earth of the Mixtec villages.

They are also dominant features of other Latin American indigenous societies, variously called “buen vivir”, “sumak kawsay” or “lekil kuxlejal”, among other terms. Indigenous civilizations have had their empires and their violence historically. But the part of their genetic memory that is being expressed today represents the basic values that the human family needs to confront the world of violence and depredation that the dominance of Western civilization has helped to create.

What historical turns and ideological principles have led the indigenous cultures to express these communitarian values in this time in history? What can we do to help Western culture rediscover these values?

And which set of cultural values will the courts of Mexico affirm when they decide the fate of GMO corn and of the “people of corn” here in Mexico?

http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/15031

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April 19, 2015

The Pathways of Corn

Filed under: Maize — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 8:00 am

The Pathways of Corn

Silvia Ribeiro

La Jornada, 18th April, 2015

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Corn sown in order to eat is the sacred sustenance of the man who was made from corn. Sown by business, it is the starvation of the man who was made of corn.

Simple and profound, each day these words of Miguel Ángel Asturias become more meaningful. Now the business of sowing starvation belongs to four transnational corporations that want to monopolize and transgenically contaminate corn, until the hands that bred and cared for this food of mankind might even have to buy seed from them and pay them for “inappropriate patent use” should their ancestral corns be contaminated with GMOs.[i]

The attack is extensive, but the defence is even more so. So important is maize in Mesoamerica, that the transnationals cannot believe they are encountering so many obstacles to imposing their will, which they have done with impunity on many other issues. So deep are the roots and reasons for the women and men of corn, which like the sun, unfailingly returns, dissipating the clouds, weaving sunrises, germinating new seeds and growing new ears of corn in many colours, shapes and flavours.

For the last 21 months, planting genetically modified corn in Mexico, its centre of origin, has been legally suspended, an unprecedented and praiseworthy event, which is now entering a new phase. Collective AC, the legal representative of a class action lawsuit filed by 53 individuals and 20 organizations, announced that after overcoming a long [legal] process [designed] to prevent this issue from even being discussed, the legal process for considering the case against GM corn for damages that it entails for biodiversity and health, among others, is now set to begin. In 2013, in connection with this class action lawsuit, the court approved an injunction that suspended the planting of GM corn at the experimental, pilot and commercial levels, while it also ordered the authorities to refrain from undertaking any procedure aimed at issuing new planting permits until the charges brought are decided.

Across the last 21 months, they had to face 91 challenges filed not only by Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, Pioneer (DuPont) but by the Secretariats of both Agriculture and Environment. The challenges presented by the Secretariats represent shameful acts, the diversion of State authority in order to favour the profitability of transnational businesses against the interests of the peoples who created the corn and against the will of the vast majority of Mexico’s citizens. In November 2014, the final ruling of the international Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal made this point clear.

Business and government together have filed 11 petitions for amparo [injunction] (nine by the transnationals; two by the federal government) to reverse the restraining order and another 11 (again nine corporate; two federal) against the grounds for the class action lawsuit. Collective AC had to respond to each of the challenges, and it also filed 26. To date seventeen courts have been involved: one federal court, one court of appeal, three amparo courts, one administrative commission, 10 collegiate [district] courts, and the first chamber of the Supreme Court. When all appeals against the lawsuit are finally turned down, the legal procedure will begin. Along the way, several courts also ruled in favour of the suspension [restraining order] as a precautionary measure, such that it will be maintained during the legal proceeding.

The sowing of GM corn is suspended not only due to this important legal work and the action of honest judges who affirmed the defence of the country’s most important genetic heritage. It is also suspended thanks to the defence of the land, seeds, soil, water and forests by [indigenous] communities and ejidos in all corners of the country; and thanks also to every neighbourhood and organization that decides to eat [corn] tortillas without GMOs, thanks to every school, forum, dining room and talk show where their atrocities are reported and where it is sought to build or strengthen networks for ensuring that the hands of small farmers might remain free of GMOs, these same hands that supply corn to local markets and fairs. Thanks to strong national and international public opinion against the release of GM corn in its centre of origin, because it condemns the inevitable contamination in Mexico, which is the global genetic reservoir of corn that is [with rice and wheat] one of the three grain pillars for the global food supply.

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Eduardo Galeano was a beloved presence who always felt and supported the struggles of the peoples of corn. Citing the Popol Vuh, Eduardo told us that when the gods were making human beings, before they made them of the corn that is their true essence, they tried making them of wood. Although they seemed to be human beings, they were insensitive and ambitious; they did not respect the earth or other living beings. The gods thought they had eliminated them, but some escaped and today, Galeano told us, they rule the world.

But despite their assaults, they are also broken and finally die. Defence of the corn and its communal care will live on forever, in perpetuity. Eduardo continues walking along the pathways of the corn. His words and feelings, like the seeds that return to grow and marry with many others bred by the indigenous communities, will continue to germinate.  

Translated by Jane Brundage

[i] MV Note: Corn is a crop with open pollination; that is, its pollen can travel long distances on the wind. Thus, in the case of the GMOs, the danger is contamination of native corns by windborne GMO pollen

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/04/18/index.php?section=opinion&article=021a1eco&partner=rss

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